Judge rules that Del Mar’s ‘Voice Your Choice’ is legal poll, rejects resident’s suit

Del Mar can legally poll voters, a judge ruled Jan. 30, rejecting a claim that the “Voice Your Choice” poll is an illegal election.

Through Feb. 13, registered voters in Del Mar have an opportunity to participate in the online poll, ranking three options for the facilities that will replace the city hall at 1050 Camino del Mar.

Before the poll went live Feb. 2, however, a resident sued the city on Jan. 29 and requested an injunction against the Internet-based survey. Plaintiff Edward Mohns, who also sued the city’s consultant Everyone Counts, argued the California Secretary of State had not certified the voting system.

After about an hourlong hearing, Superior Court Judge Eddie Sturgeon held that the city’s poll “was not an illegal election under California law,” explained City Attorney Leslie Devaney during the Feb. 2 council meeting.

“We were very pleased with that result,” she said.

The plaintiff immediately declined to appeal the judge’s decision, but has up to 60 days to do so.

When finalizing the survey language during the Jan. 20 meeting, council members and city officials made it clear “Voice Your Choice” is a poll, not an election. Because online voting is not allowed in California, the city received a letter from the secretary of state with concerns about the way the process was presented in a December staff report. That letter was used as evidence during the hearing.

Since receiving the letter, all references to the survey as an election were removed. The modified documents were submitted to state officials, who verbally said they had no problems with the new language, said Assistant City Attorney Barry Schultz.

The poll closes 5 p.m. Feb. 13.

A polling station with a tablet is available at City Hall for those without Internet access. Paper surveys are also available.


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